In communications day message, Francis asks outlets to focus on good news, too

Vatican City — Pope Francis is asking news outlets around the globe to remember to focus not only on news of the world’s tragedies or scandals but also on positive solutions to its problems.

In his message for World Communications Day, released Tuesday, the pontiff tells media professionals:  "I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on ‘bad news.’”

“This has nothing to do with spreading misinformation that would ignore the tragedy of human suffering, nor is it about a naive optimism blind to the scandal of evil,” states the pope.

"Rather, I propose that all of us work at overcoming that feeling of growing discontent and resignation that can at times generate apathy, fear or the idea that evil has no limits,” Francis says.

"I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamourize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients,” he continues. “I ask everyone to offer the people of our time storylines that are at heart 'good news.'”

Francis is writing Tuesday in the 51st papal message for World Communications Day, which will be celebrated May 28 with the theme: “Fear not, for I am with you: Communicating Hope and Trust in our Time.”

The papal message is released each Jan. 24, the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers and journalists.

In order to reach out more directly to news outlets with the content of Francis’ message, the Vatican took a special step in distributing the document this year. The prefect of the Vatican’s new Secretariat for Communications, Msgr. Dario Vigano, sent the message directly to the head editors of a number of outlets, offering his own letter alongside the document.

"Pope Francis reminds us that communication has the power of building bridges and encouraging encounter and inclusion,” wrote Vigano in that letter. “Only by doing so will we be able to enrich society.”

“As you know this field has great potentials and offers new learning opportunities,” the prelate continued. “I would like this message of Pope Francis to inspire you to start a discussion and debate with the main stakeholders who work in our field, in order to help public opinion reflect about the issues the Holy Father calls our attention on.”

Francis begins his message by comparing the process of writing news to the working of a millstone, explaining how "it is up to the miller to determine what it will grind: good wheat or worthless weeds."

The pontiff says he is directing his message to those who "are like that mill, daily 'grinding out' information with the aim of providing rich fare for those with whom they communicate."

"I would like to encourage everyone to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all of us to view the world around us with realism and trust,” states Francis.

The pope’s full message for 2017’s World Communications Day is available here

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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